Collins proposes increasing the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,100

            WASHINGTON, D.C.—In an effort to help students and families who are struggling with the high costs of a college education and to help encourage more students to attend college, Senator Susan Collins today introduced legislation that she authored titled; the “Improving Access to Higher Education Act.”


            “Our system of higher education is, in many ways, the envy of the world, but its benefits have not been equally available,” said Senator Collins.  “Unfortunately, family income still largely determines whether students will pursue higher education.   Students from families with incomes above $75,000 are more than twice as likely to attend college as students from families with incomes of less than $25,000.”


            Senator Collins’ legislation would raise the maximum Pell Grant award from $4,050 to $5,100, an increase of more than $1,000 in a single year.


            “By raising the maximum award to $5,100, my home state of Maine will receive approximately $60 million in Pell grant funding, an increase of over $15 million from current levels.  This level of funding would provide Pell grants to more than 20,000 Maine students,” said Senator Collins.


            In addition, the “Improving Access to Higher Education Act” would:


  • Raise the minimum Pell award to $500, up from the current $400 minimum.
  • Increase the tax deduction available for interest paid on higher education loans from $2,500 to $3,750, a 50 percent increase.
  • Increase the contribution limit for tax-free “Coverdell Education Savings Account” from $2,000 to $3,000.
  • Make permanent the current tax-free treatment of employer-provided education assistance programs.  The current provision expires December 31, 2010.


        “It is time for us to make a commitment to raising the Pell maximum award and to providing additional relief to families struggling to afford higher education,” said Senator Collins.  “Investing in higher education is crucial to our economic future and competitiveness in the global economy, and my legislation represents a sound investment towards making the dream of a college education a reality for more Americans.  I hope that my colleagues will join me in supporting this legislation.”